It’s been said that former presidents of the United States comprise the most exclusive club in the world.
Only these individuals know with any sort of certainty what the current president is facing. Only they know the struggles he endures.
At this moment, the nation has five men who belong to that club: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama. I believe five is the most we’ve ever had at one time.
We’ve been down to zero. I believe the last time it occurred was when Lyndon Johnson died in January 1973, making the president at the time, Richard Nixon, something of a “political orphan.” He had no one with whom he could consult.
So, with that bit of backdrop, my thoughts turn to the current president and whether he is imbued with the inclination to ask any of his predecessors for advice, counsel or support.
I think I know the answer to that. Donald John Trump Sr. campaigned for the office declaring himself a “smart person” who would be surrounded by the “best people.” He told us he knows “more about ISIS than the generals … believe me.” He said repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act would be “easy.” Trump kept boasting over and over about how his business acumen made him so rich. Trump said he had the “best mind,” and he seeks advice from within his own noggin, that he didn’t need anyone else.
Each of the men who served before him, though, bring certain knowledge and expertise about the myriad world problems confronting the president.
President Carter knows a thing or three about achieving peace in the Middle East; oh, wait, Trump has his 30-something son-in-law working on that one. President G.H.W. Bush has experience negotiating with Russians; oh never mind, Trump is tight with the Russians. President Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress to produce a balanced federal budget; Trump and congressional Democrats hate each other’s guts. President G.W. Bush rallied the nation in the weeks after 9/11; Trump detests Bush 43’s decision to go to war in Iraq. President Obama fought tooth and nail against Republicans seeking to block everything he did, but he still managed to enact the Affordable Care Act; Trump has failed on that “easy” effort.
Donald Trump certainly could use some counsel from any or all of the men who came before him.
Every indication I’ve seen — admittedly from a distance — tells me the president actually believes what he boasted. That he’s the smartest man ever to hold the office.
If only he was smart enough to realize he isn’t.
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